John Piper

Cwm Tryfan

  • Signed, titled and dated '1949' (lower right)
  • Mixed media
  • 20 x 26 ins

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Provenance:
Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner's father

"I felt that I was seeing the mountains for the first time and seeing them as nobody had seen them before"

From the early 1940s to the mid 1950s Piper made a series of studies of the mountains of North Wales. Dark and emotive, these pictures are considered amongst the best of Piper's oeuvre.

Piper's first serious encounter with Snowdonia was in 1942 when the War Artists Advisory Committee commissioned him to record the interior of Manod Mawr quarry. His interest in rock formations had already been sparked by visits to the caves of Yorkshire including Gordale Scar, which he visited with Geoffrey Grigson. A trip to Cader Idris in North Wales in 1943 cemented Piper's interest in following the footsteps of the great romantic British artists before him who had studied the mountains and Piper set out on his own exploration. From 1947 onwards Piper rented cottages in North Wales, first in Pentre in the Nant Ffrancon Valley and later Bodesi near Llyn Ogwen, beneath the mountain of Tryfan. Piper used these cottages, which he, Myfanwy and their children would stay at for up to two weeks at a time, as a base to explore the surrounding landscape. Taking his sketchbooks with him to record topographical features, he would later work them up into completed drawings, usually measuring about 22 x 28 inches in pen, ink, watercolour, gouache and chalk. Piper's close involvement with the landscape, and the extensive notes he made of the weather result in paintings that are true to the topographical features of the land yet have a strong romantic flavour to them.